Read On Facebook’s Battle With Fake News!
Facebook is one of the world’s best known and most loved social media platforms. People use it to share photos and videos every day, and some of that content – unfortunately – gets manipulated by unscrupulous parties with an agenda. One of the most reported manipulations is a so-called ‘fake news’ scandal, created through ‘deepfakes’.
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Deepfakes are manipulations that are created by humans, or by Artificial Intelligence engines, creating videos that manipulate reality. This was first brought to the media’s attention in the last US election, and since this is an election year, it’s yet again hard to know what to trust!
To help combat the spread of misinformation, Facebook has released a new policy. According to it, if the videos are obviously created by an AI, or have been edited or synthesized in ways that ‘are not apparent to an average person and would likely to mislead someone into thinking a subject of the video said words that they didn’t actually say’, these videos would get removed immediately.
Lesser transgressions do not get punished
However, this policy doesn’t ban all doctored videos. For example, if a video is edited well, by humans, but doesn’t contain any material that’s being twisted, it might not get deleted. A good example is a deceptively edited clip of the US House Speak Nancy Pelosi that went viral last year, making her sound ‘drunk’ by subtly slowing down her speech, and was deeply criticised by the Democrat leaders and digital experts.
Also, if videos are manipulated for parody or satire, Facebook won’t ban them either. This could be a problem, and lead to heated debates, as a video that’s a mere parody could be intended as a joke, but it may be banned as ‘deceptive’ and taken down. Lesser forms of video manipulation do not get outlawed either, although they might be fact-checked and regulated in their spread on the website.
Finally, Facebook has decided that the manipulated media policy will not apply to political advertising – these videos would not be checked for falsehood. Only the most obviously manipulated political videos would be deleted. This turnaround could mean some very serious repercussions for the 2020 US Election Campaign, since it was proven in the past that this kind of videos can deeply manipulate the results of the election.
Deepfake detection challenge
Since the last election, Facebook and other tech firms have sponsored a ‘deepfake detection challenge, offering funding and a prize to the researchers who would come up with the most reliable techniques to detect doctored videos automatically. The researchers were supplied with a set of real and manipulated videos, and the challenge is scheduled to end in March 2020. It is hoped that it the new policy and these findings will help to control the spread of misinformation on Facebook and perhaps other online social media platforms.
Overall, this is a complex and difficult issue to resolve. Considering the millions of bytes of video data that’s uploaded to Facebook every single day, controlling them all is a formidable task. Scanning them for authenticity requires a vast system, capable of understanding the difference between real and fake videos, and the sophisticated doctoring that goes into creating any of those ‘fake news’. However, as a reputable agency, it is indisputable that it is the social media giant’s responsibility to control the spread of misinformation and deepfakes, especially during politically sensitive times like the US Presidential Elections.